So I’ve been thinking about tools lately. You know, the gadgets and widgets we all use to get stuff done in our daily lives. And so I compiled some odds and ends of my thoughts here in the hopes that it might cause you to consider what you use and, maybe more importantly, what you need to use.
As I state on the home page of my site, my tools of the trade include a MacBook Air laptop, Microsoft Office for Mac, and Chicago Manual of Style. Since I work with words for a living, it makes sense that I invest in tools that meet or exceed the standards of quality for the publishing industry. But if you’re like me, you are intrigued by what others in your field may use.
So suffice it to say that I was wowed to learn that recently deceased bestselling author Pat Conroy continued to write his lengthy novels in longhand on legal pads right up until his death. “I always write first drafts of my books on long yellow legal pads using a pen. Once I’ve finished a new manuscript the pens go into a ceramic cup on my desk,” Pat Conroy stated on his website.
And award-winning historian David McCullough told The Paris Review: “I write on an old Royal typewriter…and I’ve written all my books on it. People say, ‘But with a computer you could go so much faster.’ Well, I don’t want to go faster. If anything, I should go slower. I don’t think all that fast.”
A couple of my favorite quotes about tools include Henry David Thoreau’s “Men have become the tools of their tools” and Marshall McLuhan’s “We shape our tools, and afterward our tools shape us.” The dictionary definition of a tool is “anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose” so that includes intangibles like education.
Former Wired editor Kevin Kelly describes his quirky site called Cool Tools: “A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true.” And it is worth checking out Shawn Blanc’s Tools and Toys site for helpful reviews and interviews. I’d be interested to know what tools others use so feel free to share your comment below.